Categories: Science & Technology

Stereotypes destroyed: Video games can be beneficial for mental health

It seems to many that video games are fraught with many dangers: people are afraid of the development of addiction, the appearance of groundless aggression, rejection from the outside world. This time, the researchers decided to approach the issue in terms of benefits.

In the new work, scientists did not ask the volunteers how much time they spend in the game, but obtained objective data on their playing time from the manufacturers of computer games.

In total, more than three thousand users of two popular video games participated in the study: Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville.

Their manufacturers, Electronic Arts and Nintendo, shared statistics about these players with researchers, and scientists themselves were asked by the scientists to take a survey about their subjective attitude to the game and their well-being.

Comparing the data, the researchers found that the time spent in the game did not affect the person’s well-being as much as the player’s impressions and emotions. Only the sincere pleasure that people received during the game influenced the assessment of their own well-being.

However, scientists also saw a pattern that supported the results of previous studies: people who were dissatisfied with real life reported a deterioration in well-being after playing video games.

Details of this work are published in the Royal Society Open Science.

“Our finding is that video games are not dangerous for the health of themselves, there are other psychological factors that have a significant impact on people – Dr. Andrew Przybylski said in a press release, lead author of the study -. In fact, computer games can have a positive effect on mental health, and perhaps banning video games will only prevent people from improving their psychological state.”

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Indeed, in video games, people find many pleasant things: a sense of community, competition, a break from everyday life. This is especially important in a pandemic, when opportunities for direct communication are limited, and the world inside a video game can calm and distract from anxiety.

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Video games do not affect the level of aggression in adolescents, can improve school performance and can even protect them from stress and psychological trauma. However, in young children, brain changes associated with a passion for video games are observed.

Video games can also improve school performance

“Students who play online games almost every day score 15 points above average in math and 17 points above average on science tests,” said researcher Alberto Posso of the Royal University of Technology, Melbourne.

According to him, when a person plays computer games, he solves puzzles to move to the next level. “This involves the use of some general knowledge and skills in mathematics and reading, and general scientific knowledge is useful here,” the scientist notes.

By the way, this conclusion is confirmed by another study, which said that five minutes of computer games improves children’s ability to math.

Students who regularly play online games also develop analytical skills and problem-solving skills, Posso said. This, in turn, helps them in their studies at school.

“Sometimes players need some basic chemistry knowledge as well, so they really need to understand a little bit about this area. Some psychologists argue that massive online games can be very beneficial for mental development,” Posso adds.

Video games can also improve brain function in older adults, reduce the risk of developing dementia, and improve visual perception.


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